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Michael and Luna: A rewilding journey


Michael and Luna are walking across Canada to help Scotland replant its forests. – © Jaymie L. White / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By JAYMIE L. WHITE Special to the Appalachian

STEPHENVILLE — Michael Yellowlees of Dunkeld and Birnam, Scotland, accompanied by his faithful husky Luna, are on the journey of a lifetime across Canada. The pair have been walking along the Trans Canada Highway since March 1 to raise funds for Trees for Life, a charity aimed at rewilding the Scottish Highlands, namely the Caledonian Forest, which once covered the majority of Scotland.

According to the charity, the Caledonian Forest once covered 15,000 sq. km and by the 1950’s approximately only one per cent of the original forest remained in small, isolated patches.

Since 1993, Trees for Life has been successful in not only bringing back Scots pine trees to areas where it has been lost for generations, but it has grown rare trees such as aspen, mountain top willow and birch for a new forest with a full range of trees.

Yellowlees and Luna began their trek in Tofino, British Columbia, and their long journey is set to end in Cape Spear on Dec. 5 or 6.

Yellowlees said there are numerous reasons that he chose Canada for his fundraiser.

“The wilderness you have in Canada is wilderness we’ve lost back in Scotland. It’s getting a taste of that and in the same breath telling you guys to look after what you’ve got,” said Yellowlees. “There is also a huge relationship between Scotland and Canada. Thousands upon thousands of Scots were removed from our lands and sent over to Canada, so it’s telling the story and the history and the landscape of Scotland as well – telling the history of its people and tying it into this shared ancestry that we have and asking you guys to give back to your ancestral home.”

In total, Yellowlees and Luna will walk over 8,000 km.

“We are doing big days at the moment just because we are trying to get done before the big snow comes, so we started doing 45-50 km days.”

Their Facebook page, Michael and Luna – A Rewilding Journey, has already amassed over 8,000 followers. Yellowlees shares stories, photos, and videos to gain attention for his cause.

One follower provided the team with an RV for the last few weeks between Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, and St. John’s. This generous donation gives Yellowlees a warm, dry place to rest and store his gear, and benefits Luna too.

“It’s great for her as well, where we are doing such long days back-to-back all the time,” said Yellowlees. “It’s great that she can get the rest that she needs and relax. She’s a happy girl.”

Yellowlees said this trip has been amazing, but he is getting excited to see the finish line so close.

“It’s a passion, but obviously this is a bit of a challenge as well,” said Yellowlees. “This is much bigger than anything I’ve ever done before. It’s in the 19 day countdown which is really nice. I’m looking forward to the end and putting my feet up.”

Yellowlees said the support has been overwhelming.

“People have been amazing,” said Yellowlees. “One of the highlights of the trip has been the people. The outpouring of support we’ve had along the way has been amazing. It’s been a long year. It’s been tough going, brilliant experience though.”

Yellowlees has raised over $50,000 for Trees for Life so far, and donors can contribute online at: justgiving.com/fundraising/michaelandlunarewild.

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